Friday, October 30, 2009

Pasta Carbonara - It's Italian For "Job Well-Done!"

Way back when I was in college, I had my first taste of Pasta Carbonara -- è stato amore a primo morso.

I remember my Italian professor gave us the recipe in class one day. Isn't that a great way to teach! Based on my command of the language today though, it is about the only Italian I retained from the class. Now, I am at the mercy of Google Translate, although I do speak some menu Italian. Vuoi patatine fritte con quella?

During that first quarter of freshman year, my adviser confided to me that I would never, ever have to take a single math class - IF - I signed up for a second year of French (I already had first-year proficiency credit for my four years of high school French.) Merci mille fois, Mme. Treece!

Fear of math is a great motivator! So I fled Italy after that first quarter and moved across the hall, back to France.

To this day, I can add, subtract, multiply and divide with the best of them, but I prefer my math to be alphabet-free!

I don't have many French dishes in my repertoire though. Seems the French were not quite so relaxed in their approach to language. Damn Académie française!

Back to Pasta Carbonara . . .

Spaghetti, eggs, cream, butter, cheese, bacon and pepper. I couldn't get home fast enough that day to show my family (yeah, I lived at home through my college years) what I had learned in class! How could anything be less than divine with those ingredients? Thank God the recipe was written in English! I quickly assembled the ingredients and made my first Pasta Carbonara. I was hooked! È delizioso!

Pasta Carbonara has always been my guilty-pleasure-dinner-of-choice when I am home alone. When I served it to My Favorite Husband for dinner the other night, he said he had never had it before. How could that be, I started to ask, but stopped short. No need to go there! He's not much for languages anyway. Pilots are math people.

I have no real recipe. The one below is simply how I made the version pictured above. It was very good. Simple ingredients are the only requirements. Well, that and the ability to boil water. It really is so easy.

I am a stickler for good cheese, but the other ingredients are subject to what is available in the fridge when I am seized by the desire for this fast and easy comfort food. The cream is optional or missing in many written versions, but I love what it does to the cheese when it's hot -- helps it to coat each and every strand of spaghetti, without clumping.

This is not low-anything food, but it is something special to enjoy once in a while. I like to think of it as a reward for all my hard work in college . . . or when I'm home alone . . . or when it's Wednesday.

Ah, Pasta Carbonara. I'm pretty sure that translates to "job well done, by an English major, who studied French, to avoid math." Or something like that.

Buon appetito!

8 oz. spaghetti
2 eggs
3 tbsp. cream
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. chopped cooked bacon
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
freshly ground pepper

Cook spaghetti in boiling, salted water. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat eggs and cream until blended. Drain cooked spaghetti and return to hot pan. Immediately add egg mixture and toss to coat spaghetti evenly. Egg should cook from the heat of the spaghetti; turn heat on very low, if necessary. Add butter to hot spaghetti mixture and toss until melted. Add bacon and parmigiano-reggiano cheese; toss until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Serve with freshly ground pepper. Serves 2-4.

*Note: I use Dreamfields pasta, heavy cream, unsalted butter and Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Pieces.

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1 comment:

Janet S said...

I want to make this for dinner. I think we are out of bacon! ... one more trip to the store.